HHS Secretary Resists Call for National Emergency to Deal with Opioid Crisis CSPAN August 8, 2017 9:07pm-9:31pm EDT
to the united states. they will be met with fire and fury, like the world has never seen. he has been very threatening beyond a normal statement. as i said, they will be met with fire, fury, and frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before. thank you. thank you. >> they are coming out. sec. price: good afternoon. we just have come from an extremely productive meeting with the president and the first lady.
gathered to talk about the opioid crisis. the president and first lady are absolutely fully engaged on a tragedy that is crossing the country. the president understands the magnitude of this challenge, how devastating it is, how it has devastated individuals and families and communities large and small. he understands the effect it has had on our nation, especially on families and on children. the numbers are absolutely -- 52,000 overdose deaths in 2015. 33,000 of those approximately related to opioids. the numbers in 2016 are no better. the numbers in 2017 are even worse than 2016. so, we briefed the president on our strategy that includes making certain we have the resources and the information
necessary for prevention and treatment and recovery. providing best practices for states and those that are engaged in that process. making certain that we have overdose reversing medication, narcan, as present as needed and possible anywhere across the you possible anywhere across the country. making certain that we are doing the data, identifying the data. and yo the public health aspect of it. why is it that 52,000 americans succomb to an overdose death in 2015 and those numbers continue to increase? fourth is the research aspect. what is the nih doing, what can they do? exciting things to provide for hopefully pain medication that is not addictive or not e uphoric. they are working on a vaccine for addiction which is incredibly exciting prospect.
finally, how do we treat pain in this patient? -- nation? as a formally practicing physician, i know that other providers have often times sense d that there is incentive to provide narcotic medication and we need to do all we can that yes, people are provided appropriate narcotic medication when necessary but no more than necessary. we wanted to make sure the president understood it is the entire cabinet and government involved. this is an inter-agency process that is moving forward. we've met previously with the department of state, justice, department of homeland security and others to make certain that we are working together on a comprehensive strategy that we are in the midst of right now and that we will be presenting to the president in the future. and the end of all of that, the
president made certain that he is absolutely committed that we turn this scourge in the right direction, this tide in the right direction. make sure that we see the number of overdose deaths and individuals addicted to medication decreased. he has made certain that we understand and appreciate this is an absolute priority in his administration as it has been from day one. one of the things we have done to try to bring a voice to it and bring faces to it is to go around the country in multiple states and visit communities and try to find those best practices. what is working out there? what hasn't worked? talk to those families that have been devastated by the addiction crisis. talk with folks who have been addicts and have recovered. it is so uplifting and inspiring to hear the stories of many of those individuals. one of the president senior counsels, kellyanne conway, was
at the meeting today and wants to say some words as well. mrs. conway: thank you, secretary price. it is nice to have the acting director along with us as well. the secretary and i have traveled to a number of different states and we have heard the harrowing and very sad stories. we have increasingly met those who have increasingly gone through recovery treatment. we are very heartened to learn that many people who are beating opioid epidemic -- we understand this is a poly drug issue -- people consuming illegal drugs at a high and alarming rate. the problem is very collocated and we are on the losing side of this war. with the president's leadership and first lady's involvement, across the spectrum of different cabinets and agencies, we are confident we can help those in need across this country.
we know this involves public health, the medical community, the health care delivery system, law enforcement, education, local and statewide elected officials, devastated families, and those in treatment and recovery. we have leadership on this issue but we note most of the great work is being done at the state and local levels, those who are closest have to help them. we didn't get here overnight and we know we cannot stop the crisis overnight neither. i would like to bring attention to some other areas with respect to the opioid and drug epidemic that sometimes go uncovered. 52.7% increase in outpatient veterans treated for substance abuse disorders from 1995 to 2003, it is an increasing concern that addiction is plaguing our veteran community as well. the next generation of the crisis is being seen in a number
of newborns that are born addicted to opioids and other drugs. in this country, nih estimates that every 25 minutes, and newborn is born addicted to opioids. we are working hard to also stop the import of fentanyl into this country and to work with those governors and health commissioners and others within the state who are interested in reducing the number of pills an d days in a prescription, and working with the curriculum so that our medical professionals are more educated and more versed in prescribing methodologies as well. president trump and the administration is working tirelessly through this. having traveled this country and studied this issue very closely, no demographic has gone untouched. this is not a problem of young and old, black or white.
it really has affected all of our communities in varying degrees. it is also a nonpartisan issue with bipartisan support and bipartisan solutions. we hope that those in a position to help with decision-making and advocacy and solutions, and those charged with covering this issue as well, will agree that it is not partisan. thank you very much. sec. price: happy to take a question or two. >> several attorneys general, including some republicans, have said manufacturers of opioids should be sued and should be held legally culpable for parts of this crisis. do you agree with that? what is the administration's orientation of those laws? sec. price: a couple of suits out there have already begun. i think this gives voice and punctuates the damage and the harm that people have felt because of this crisis.
there isn't a position that the administration has on these suits at this point, but it has clearly gotten the attention of the pharmaceutical companies. some analogize it to the tobacco issue and the settlement that occurred 20 years ago with the issue of tobacco. whether this is something that is analogize to that, i don't know. i see that we continue to move in the wrong direction on a number of individuals that are not only addicted, but individuals losing their lives to addiction. the president is absolutely involved in solving that problem and we will turn every single rock that we are identifying everything that can move was in a better direction.
the president believes that we will treat it as an emergency. it is an emergency. when you have the capacity of yankees stadium or dodgers stadium dying every single year in this nation, that is a crisis that has to be given incredible attention. the president is giving attention. >> i was curious, those of us old enough to remember the crack problem, how is this different? how is the approach to deal with the opioid problem going to be different? are we going to focus on a crisis every 20 years and move on? sec. price: it is different for a number of reasons, not the least of the magnitude and numbers of individual succumbing
to addiction and losing their lives. this is relatively recent. in the past 10 to 15 years, these numbers have spiked up. the difference is the crack cocaine issue, which was a terrible issue, but it didn't have the potency of the medication that exist right now. right now, fentanyl exists in a way that kill individuals with very small doses. the cost of illicit drugs, the cost of heroin is significantly lower than it has been. the access to these drugs is that much greater. it maybe cyclic in terms of generational engagement or involvement, but this knows no age distribution. it is affecting both young and old, and across all demographics in our society. we believe it is different if
only because of the folks given medication and the number of people succumbing to it. >> first to you, why has the president not officially declared the crisis a national emergency? sec. price: most national emergencies that have been declared in the area of public health has been focused on a specific area, a time-limited problem. infectious disease or a specific threat to public health. the two most recent are the zika outbreak and hurricane sandy. we believe that at this point the resources that we need or to focus we need to bring to bear to the opioid crisis at this point can be addressed without the declaration of an emergency. although all things are on the table for the president. >> it is on the table? sec. price: all things are on the table. >> kellyanne conway, can you
weigh in? the president said if north korea continues to threat will be met with fire and fury like a world has never seen. will you explain what he meant by fire and fury? mrs. conway: i think the president's comments are very strong and obvious. i know you covered them live. i would defer to other members of dr. price's cabinet. >> could you add to the emergency status question? mrs. conway: i believe that to the health professionals, but i will tell you the president and the first lady are taking very seriously what is an absolute epidemic. we are at it at a very peak level. one thing i should have mentioned earlier which is very important is stigmatizing the misuse. we find time and again that people are too fearful to come forward and admit they have a
problem, admit it to their people closest. something we discussed at length is the different accounts we have heard in states. you can see the stories themselves. we are so sorry, mr. and mrs. jones, we tried to save your son. this time, he was too far gone. who, what, when? that don't even know that their loved one had a substance misuse disorder, substance abuse disorder. sometimes the privacy laws do not allow parents to be notified. this is something of which we are very aware of also. >> the president commission on the opioid crisis recommended that the president immediately call this a national emergency.
that allows more medication to go into treatment. why do you feel that isn't something that needs to happen right now? is the commission wrong on this? sec. price: the report is being reviewed at all different levels of the government, but everything you just mentioned can be done, and much of it is being done without the declaration of a national emergency. or and public health emergency. everything that you talked about can be done. we are talking about what should be done and working through the departments and other agencies that i mentioned to come forward with a coherent strategy, that recommendation for the president and will do so in short order. thank you. yes? >> are you looking at changing the president's stances?
sec. price: one of the things we found when going around the country is that it is the local communities, the local, loving communities, the families, the organizations within communities that are so pivotal to providing success for individuals getting through the treatment and onto recovery. it is devastating for anybody to learn of a family who is not able to be notified that one of their loved ones has had a problem with addiction because of privacy laws. we are looking through the regulatory process to determine what can be done, if anything, to make it so that those requirements are not -- the privacy requirements are not as onerous in the case of an overdose, and it is certainly something congress will address and we will have conversations
with many of them about this. the health care challenge across this nation is not dead. what we believe needs to occur is congress needs to address the issue in a way that allows individuals to gain the kind of access to coverage and care that they need. thank you all so much. thank you. >> the report talks a lot about medicaid. sec. price: nobody is interested in cutting medicaid. the fact of the matter is the president's budget and the proposals before congress were an effort to try to secure and make a medicaid system work for patients. that is the goal we have. we have one third of the positions in this nation who ought to be seeing medicated patients who are not seeing medicated patients. that may work for the federal government, insurance companies or even medicaid programs but it doesn't work for patients.
the president's goal, our goal and desires to make sure we have a health care system that works for patients. thank you all. >> kellyanne, is the president escalating conflict in north korea? washington journal them live every day. look at escalating tensions with north korea over its nuclear weapons programs. the foundation for the defensive democracies. and then, bruce brown, executive director of the reporters
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